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Posts from the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

The Mother of the Year

We need to educate laypeople about their own health. It’s the responsibility of medical professionals to educate those who don’t know too much about their own health. Here is a good example:

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(Hat tip: BoingBoing)

What should you watch if you’d like to know more about your own health? Let’s start with some exceptional blogs:

Oh and what is the problem with the picture?

  • Jauniaux E,Burton GJ. : Morphological and biological effects of maternal exposure to tobacco smoke on the feto-placental unit. Early Hum Dev. 2007 Sep 25;

Active and passive maternal smoking has a damaging effect in every trimester of human pregnancy. Cigarette smoke contains scores of toxins which exert a direct effect on the placental and fetal cell proliferation and differentiation and can explain the increased risk of miscarriage, fetal growth restriction (FGR) stillbirth, preterm birth and placental abruption reported by epidemiological studies.

  • Huuskonen P at al: Microarray Analysis of the Global Alterations in the Gene Expression in the Placentas From Cigarette-smoking Mothers. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Oct 10;

On the basis of our results, it seems that cigarette smoke acts as a hormone disrupter in the placenta.

Genetic News with a 3D animation of childbirth

I got some feedback on my presentation (Genetics and Web 2.0), they’ve asked me to create an audio file of the presentation. As a non-English speaker, it’s not so easy, but I promise I’m going to do this. Anyway, here are the most interesting genetic news of the last days:

UK researchers have discovered a commonly occuring gene variant that may explain why some people become overweight while others do not. However, they point out that it is unlikely to be the cause of the global obesity epidemic.

Don’t miss the commentary of Corpus Callosum on the subject.

Scientists report today on the ability to create sperm from bone marrow cells. Initially performed in men, the technique could potentially be performed in women and lead to a sperm cell made from a woman’s body. You got it right- that cell could then fertilize an egg leading to the first female-female conception in human history.

Steven Palter raised the question of faulty imprinting:

There is a huge genetic time-bomb here. The genetic phenomenon called imprinting. This describes the situation where a particular gene is marked or imprinted with a tag that says if it came from the mother or father- and more importantly only one of the other is active.

Writing in the journal Science today, researchers present the DNA sequence of the rhesus macaque, a species of monkey living all across Asia. Old-world monkeys such as the macaque are thought to have diverged from the primate line that led to humans some 25 million years ago.

And here is the incredible animation. This 3D medical animation shows a time lapse view of labor and delivery during normal vaginal birth in a simplified form with only the mother’s skeletal structures and the baby in the uterus. Also shown in detail is dilatation (dilation or dilating) and effacement (thinning) of the cervix during childbirth contractions. See more 3D medical animations from Nucleus Medical Art at http://www.nucleusinc.com/youtube

(Via Biosingularity)

Grand Rounds 3.25

It’s my honor to host this week’s Grand rounds, the weekly rotating carnival of the best of the medical blogosphere. Medical students think alike: in preparing for this edition I came across an earlier Monty Python theme, The Holy Grail of GR at The Rumors Were True. Now, I decided to use some medicine and health care related Monty Python videos to provide funny moments while reading all the nearly 60 submitted articles.

I hope you’re going to enjoy this edition. Let’s start with one of my favourite subjects: from prenatal care to childhood. Also don’t miss the Python’s hospital sketch about a childbirth below:

  • Hsien Hsien Lei at Genetics and Health writes about Dr. Rav Dhallan of Ravgen and shares her thoughts on prenatal testing.
  • Health Observances blog examines the economic impact of birth defects, or the folic acid awareness.
  • Tales from the Womb presents Baby Toby Saga, a collaborative mini-series created with Dream Mom. The idea was to pilot a new form of short story on the blogosphere between a physician and a patient. Don’t miss any of the chapters.
  • Healthy Children’s post, Enhance Your Kids with Drugs, Machines, and Perfect Genes asks parents: which group will they choose for their kids: the enhanced or the ordinary?
  • Dr. Wes talks about a headline story, the relationship between trans fat and milk (Milk Might Be Harmful to Children).

Let’s continue with many bloggers’ main subject, diet from several aspects:

Mr. Gumby, in the Python video below, can’t find a nurse, but we always find the best posts of our favourite nurse bloggers:

Posts on Diabetes care:

Before watching a video on a hospital in which the doctors relax and the patients do all of the work, let’s see the usual health care section:

  • Dr. David Erani at HealthcareForum.com asks the big question: is death penalty disproportionately used against the poor?
  • Kevin, M.D. (1 doctor for 18,000 patients) and Universal Health (From Zero To Infinity And Beyond) both posted on military healthcare.
  • According to the Health Business Blog, Senators still seem to be missing the point on generic biologics.
  • Doc in the Machine describes new FDA programs which try to track drug safety and share data with the public.
  • MSSP Nexus Blog examines patient safety and mentions a book on how to build a safer health system.
  • Susan Palwick at Rickety contrivances of doing good is a volunteer ED chaplain and has written a post about the frustration of dealing with inappropriate parenting in the ED.
  • Transplant Headquarters tells us how to look up a transplant center.
  • A true story from The wait and the Wonder blog on miscommunication. For over 3 months, she thought her daughter was actively listed for a liver transplant, when she was, in fact, still listed as a status 7, inactive.
  • An other transplantation issue from A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure about the organ-transplant network.
  • Then The InsureBlog takes us into the far future where everyone will have access to free health care.

Our medical bloggers provided us with many interesting and instructive cases:

  • Val Jones, M.D. presents a story about a man who was bitten by a rabid bat. Did you know why rabies can cause “hydrophobia” in its victims?
  • Or did you know what is the correct way to remove a tick if it is embedded in a person or pet? Medicine for the Outdoors answers the question.
  • Odysseys of George’s first article is about an elderly lady with intestinal obstruction (fascinating images!); in the second one, he shows the sad part of medicine: death.
  • Parcho, MD knows well how to deliver a baby in medicine style.
  • Dr. Signout tells us a drug seeker’s story in the Gut reaction post.
  • And a terrible story in other things amanzi blog on sjambok syndrome.

Fun, musings, robotics and a strange video which proves that sometimes we can’t hear or see the patient even if it’s our fault. Consider this section as the editor’s choice:

I don’t know whether there have ever been an images’ section, but here it is:

At last, I hope I create a new section in the history of Grand rounds with medicine and web 2.0:

I hope you enjoyed this Grand rounds edition as I’ve had so much fun while doing it. Thank you, Nick Genes for the opportunity and all the help. Please prepare for the next edition at Blog, MD. Sorry for the irking medical Monty Python videos, but I must say that thank you for watching and good night a dingdingdingdingding

Musical geniuses, pregnancy mystery, virtual genomic counseling and medical reviews of House, MD

I’ve got plenty of links for today:

Music under the microscope: the relation between biology and genetics and human music, its peculiarities and reasons. These are the main themes of the International Workshop on the Biology and Genetics of Music, to be held in Bologna, May 20 to 22, with leading scientists currently involved in researching the mysteries of music.

A Deakin University study has unlocked one of the many mysteries of pregnancy : how the trace element copper is transported across the placenta… The results provide a target for further research into a range of conditions that are believed to be related to copper metabolism such as preeclampsia and intrauterine growth retardation.

The PBS television station KQED in San Francisco recently aired a very thoughtful segment comparing online genomic counseling through DNA Direct to traditional face-to-face counseling via UCSF.

And at last, a short interview of various 1st year residents (interns) featuring music by They Might Be Giants – Am I Awake.

New Canadian screening guidelines for pregnant women

For women older than 35, amniocentesis is usually recommended. But the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is now presenting a new guideline system:

All women should have access to blood tests and ultrasounds and that the results of such measures should guide the decision for more invasive screening, such as amniocentesis.

Amniocentesis (just like CVS) carries a risk of miscarriage which is currently thought to be 1 out of every 1,600 procedures. So we can easily understand why this guideline could be helpful for plenty of pregnant women with some kind of risk for genetically affected baby. But, just as usual, here is the opinion and concerns of the other side.

According to the Ottawa Sun article, the main question is that Is it free choice or a hunt for perfect babies? You know well my opinion on the subject. Take a closer look at this question. So if I don’t want my baby to be affected by a genetic condition, then I say that the lives of people with disabilities aren’t worth living? Umm, I don’t think so…

Michael Bach of the Canadian Association for Community Living said:

We’re not saying women shouldn’t have access to information. We’re not saying women’s reproductive rights should be limited in any way. We think the voices of people with disabilities and their families need to be heard.

And at last, according to the SOGC, the new guideline would be important and advantageous:

It would reduce the need for invasive tests, such as amniocentesis, which risk miscarriage, and allow doctors to be ready to deliver a baby with special needs.

“It is very clear that some of the information will be used by women to stop their pregnancies,” co-author Dr. Philip Wyatt said. “More women will use the information to allow pregnancies to go to term that would have been lost.

The society argues that consent to screening should be informed and that testing programs should “show respect” for the needs and quality of life of disabled people

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A public photo from Flickr

References:

Morning Baby News

Here are the best baby, pregnancy related articles, findings from the last 24 hours :

Children whose mothers were stressed out during pregnancy are vulnerable to mental and behavioural problems like ADHD, mounting evidence suggests… We should be screening women in pregnancy for stress and intervening. It has big public health implications. About a million children in the UK have neurodevelopmental problems – ADHD, cognitive delay, anxiety and so on. About 15% of this might be due to antenatal stress.

A new study finds that women who take folic acid supplements early in their pregnancy can substantially reduce their baby’s chances of being born with a facial cleft… The researchers estimated that 22 percent of isolated CLP cases in Norway could be averted if all pregnant women took 0.4 mg of folic acid per day.

In the wake of a new record for becoming the world’s oldest mother, fertility experts are encouraged by recent research showing that older moms are as capable of good parenting as younger women — but are increasingly concerned about women naively postponing pregnancy till later in life.

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Source

Amazing medical images at Street Anatomy

Here is a new addition to my feed reader and blogroll: Street Anatomy. The editor is Vanessa Ruiz, a graduate student in Biomedical Visualization at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She tries to share what she’s learning about her profession. And she had a perfect start, so don’t miss it.

You know well, I love writing about medical illustrations and imaging (some examples: Nikon’s Small World Gallery, The Visible Human Project, The best medical image collections, A crowded womb: 4D Ultrasound or 3D sculptures of molecules). Take a look at some of the best pregnancy related images from her site:

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Image source

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It looks as if the baby was just placed in the cross section.

Pregnancy and giant babies by sculptor Ron Mueck

After advertising on a pregnant belly, now take a short journey inside contemporary art. Ron Mueck is a fantastic hyperrealist sculptor. He began his career making puppets for children’s television, including a stint with Jim Henson and Sesame Street. And Mueck usually creates sculpts of pregnant women or giant babies. For a long time, I’ve been curious about why and how he makes this kind of works. So take a look at the images then I take you behind the scenes.

First, the making of the pregnant woman:

Pregnant woman is a contemporary portrayal of motherhood, making reference to universal themes such as fertility, birth, the goddess, the iconography of the Madonna and Child, and to life itself. Mueck’s ability to portray the monumentality and strength of a pregnant woman, as well as her vulnerability and emotional intensity, creates a powerful connection between the work and the viewer.

Mueck’s process and techniques are a source of fascination, particularly in relation to his meticulous observation of the skin’s surface: its pores, the follicles of hair, the softness of a mole, the hardness of a nail and the shadows of veins just beneath the skin. These are the things that draw viewers to Pregnant woman and make the sculpture seem so real.

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Purchased with the assistance of Tony and Carol Berg 2003. © Ron Mueck

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These days, Ron Mueck and his assistant Charlie Clarke work with Brooklyn Museum staff to install the exhibition Ron Mueck on view at the Brooklyn Museum, November 3, 2006–February 4, 2007.

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Above, my favourite images on the giant baby. You can even see the umbilical cord. But didn’t he choose photography?

Eventually Mueck concluded that photography pretty much destroys the physical “presence” of the original object, and so he turned to fine art and sculpture. In the early 1990s, still in his advertising days, Mueck was commissioned to make something highly realistic, and was wondering what material would do the trick. Latex was the usual, but he wanted something harder, more precise. Luckily, he saw a little architectural decor on the wall of a boutique and inquired as to the nice, pink stuff’s nature. Fiberglass resin was the answer, and Mueck has made it his bronze and marble ever since.

The Brooklyn version of the exhibition travels to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, February–May 2007.

 

Pregnancy and motherhood: update

First, a short story about Jennifer Gordon who wants to sell her pregnant stomach. Yes, the Super Bowl is coming…

Gordon, a lifelong “die-hard Bears fan,” already has airfare booked and a place to stay in Miami — but no Super Bowl tickets. She’s hoping to remedy that by auctioning off ad space on her nearly nine-months-pregnant belly to the highest bidder — or someone with really, really good seats.

Second, a great study on fetal alcohol defects :

Experts estimate approximately 100 babies are born daily suffering from alcohol related defects that include abnormalities such as neurological, craniofacial, and cardiac malformations… The findings suggest even small amounts of alcohol might be unsafe for pregnant women and also indicate cholesterol supplementation may be a potential means to prevent fetal alcohol defects.

And third, a honest post from Straight from the Doc about how it is like to be a single mom to a 4-year-old boy and a medical blogger. Motherhood and Marriage: Pathways to Psychiatric Breakdowns?

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Jennifer should wear a bellymask…

A crowded womb: 4D Ultrasound

The future of prenatal screening belongs to the 4D scan. It uses the same frequency of sound waves as a normal ultrasound, but the sound waves are directed from many more angles, producing a ‘real-time’ video of the foetus.

London-based obstetrician Professor Stuart Campbell, who is the pioneer of 4D scans in Britain, performed the scans for a National Geographic documentary.

He says: ‘It was fascinating to see the babies in more detail than ever before. I was amazed at the detail in the faces – smiles, blinking – and the interaction between multiple foetuses.’

See many more images and video clips here, or the timeline of fetal growth on the GE Healthcare page.

A new blogterview on the subject is coming soon…

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Fantastic four: A silicone model of a quadruplet pregnancy (Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk)

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Their own placenta and amniotic sac prevent them from touching each other. (Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk)

References:

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